5G NR (New Radio) is a new radio access technology (RAT) developed by 3GPP for the 5G (fifth generation) mobile network. It is designed to be the global standard for the air interface of 5G networks.
The 3GPP specification 38 series provides the technical details behind NR, the RAT beyond LTE.
Study of NR within 3GPP started in 2015, and the first specification was made available by the end of 2017. While the 3GPP standardization process was ongoing, industry had already begun efforts to implement infrastructure compliant with the draft standard, with the expectation that the first large-scale commercial launch of 5G NR would occur in 2019.
Frequency Bands for 5G
5G NR uses two frequency ranges:
- Frequency Range 1 (FR1), including sub-6 GHz frequency bands
- Frequency Range 2 (FR2), including frequency bands in the mmWave range (24–100GHz)
5G Deployment modes
Initial 5G NR launches will depend on existing LTE 4G infrastructure in non-standalone (NSA) mode, before maturation of the standalone (SA) mode with the 5G core network.
The non-standalone (NSA) mode of 5G NR refers to an option of 5G NR deployment that depends on the control plane of an existing LTE network for control functions, while 5G NR is exclusively focused on the user plane. This is reported to speed up 5G adoption, however some operators and vendors have criticised prioritising the introduction of 5G NR NSA on the grounds that it could hinder the implementation of the standalone mode of the network.
Standalone (SA) mode of 5G NR refers to using 5G cells for both signalling and information transfer. It includes the new 5G Packet Core architecture instead of relying on the 4G Evolved Packet Core, to allow the deployment of 5G without the LTE network. It is expected to have lower cost, better efficiency, and to assist development of new use cases.
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